It was cold, and it was 11:22 pm, and it was Sunday night, and the very nice lady told me that I could ride the light rail to Mount Baker if I liked, but that the very last train to downtown had embarked at 11:05.

11:05? Not even midnight? Huh, Sound Transit?

(By the way, Questionland—you guys rule!—I did in fact take the train to the airport at 5:19 am on Christmas Eve, and me and the other train-riders were some of the most relaxed people at the airport that morning, not having had to go through traffic at all. Genius.)

So I called Sound Transit spokeswoman Linda Robson, and here's our exchange.

Linda: We have no plans to extend the service hours beyond what we already provide. For us, 2 factors—no budget to extend hours beyond the 20-Mon-Sat and 18-Sun, and we also use those 4-6 hours a day for vehicle maintenance and station and system cleaning and maintenance.

Very few systems run 24 hours a day. Even London, Paris, and Tokyo systems close around midnight or 1am. I believe each of those systems also have first-train/last-train times for their stations just as we do.

Me: quick question, though: why do the trains run to mount baker and stop there rather than coming into downtown? in other words, why are the hours longer to mount baker?

Linda: The last trains come from Westlake and SeaTac/Airport back to the O&M yard at the end of the day, which means Mt Baker and SODO are the last two stations to have a train pull in each night. We don’t have vehicle bases at the ends of the line, we have one in the middle, and that’s because Westlake and SeaTac/Airport are only the ends for now. Expansion is already underway.

Me: if expansion is underway, does that mean that downtown will eventually get longer hours of delivery? when i arrived at the train station on sunday night, i was told that the last train to downtown had already left (11:05), but it was 11:22 and people were routed to a train to mt. baker. what time does the last mt. baker train leave seatac?

Linda: No no, by “expansion” I mean construction to extend the length is already happening. U-Link work is already underway.
Last Sunday train from SeaTac/A to Mt Baker departs S/A at 11:47pm, and again, lots of train systems out there in the world, including London, Paris, and Tokyo systems all do it the same way.

Except there's a big difference between 11:05 pm and midnight or 1 am. Heathrow to London train runs to midnight. De Gaulle to Paris runs to 1 am. Haneda to Tokyo runs to 11:52 (if I'm reading that schedule right).

If I had been in London, Paris, OR Tokyo Sunday night, I'd have caught the train.

And let's look closer to home, shall we? What's the matter with American models, anyway?

O'Hare to downtown Chicago: 24 hours. AirTrain at JFK: 24 hours. Logan to Boston: Until 12:30 am.

So I could have been in London, Paris, Tokyo, Chicago, New York, OR Boston, and I'd have been on the train.

Given that most air traffic happens before midnight, doesn't it seem like a good idea to extend the hours just a little into downtown, Sound Transit?

Waiting to hear back from Robson.